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Facts and fiction about fuel economy

By Abe Aamidor
Gannett News Service
Sat, Mar 26, 2005



What do you really know about fuel economy? With gasoline prices hovering at or near record prices in recent days - and the peak summer vacation travel season yet to come - it's time to put up or shut up.

Take the following "True or False" quiz to measure your GQ (that's short for gas quotient). Answers are below.


True or false?

1. Always inflate your tires to the maximum pressure as embossed on your tire's sidewall.

2. Cleaning out the trunk of your car will improve gas mileage.

3. In summer, turn off your air conditioning and roll down the windows to save fuel.

4. High-octane fuel gives better gas mileage than regular.

5. Manual-transmission cars provide better fuel economy than automatics.

6. "Amazing new discovery improves gas mileage 72 percent!"

7. Cruise control helps save fuel in flat terrain but not hilly terrain.

8. In summer, buy gas during the coolest part of the day to get more gas for your money.

9. Gas/electric-hybrid cars aren't much better at fuel economy than traditional gas-powered cars, in spite of all the hype.

10. Buy the cheapest brand of gasoline - it's all the same anyway.



Answers

1. False. The maximum pressure rating on your tire's sidewall has nothing to do with fuel economy. It only refers to maximum safe inflation. Consult your owner's manual for proper tire inflation, and adhere to it.

2. True. Every 200 pounds of unnecessary weight shaves 1 mile per gallon, according to auto parts dealer AutoZone (see procarcare.com for additional information).

3. False. Turning off the A/C does increase engine efficiency, but rolling down the windows increases drag, which requires the engine to expend more energy. Here's some advice from an environmental group known as Earth Share of Washington (esw.org): At lower speeds, open the windows or sunroof to stay cool. At higher speeds, use the car's fan instead.

4. False. Octane refers only to a fuel's resistance to knock or ping. Only 6 percent of all cars on the road require high-octane gas, while 10 percent of all gas sold is high octane, reports the Federal Trade Commission.

5. True. Automatic transmissions generally degrade fuel economy, says the Office of Mobile Sources at the EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. But some newer automatics do have five gears, which matches the number in most manual transmissions. Also, do not "lug" a manual transmission (meaning shift too soon), and do not race the engine, either (shift too late).

6. False. The Environmental Protection Agency frequently tests these gimmicky devices, which typically are connected to the car's fuel/air-intake system. They haven't found one that keeps its promises yet.

7. True. According to Edmunds.com, "If you are driving in hilly terrain, using cruise control typically causes your vehicle to speed up faster (to maintain the preset speed) than it would if you were operating the accelerator yourself." You'll use more fuel.

8. True. Savings are slight, but fuel is denser when it's cooler, meaning you'll get more gas for your money. "Gas pumps measure volumes of gas, not the concentration," says Courtney Gable, a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, writing on losangeles.about.com.

9. True. This is controversial, but several sources note that real-world driving conditions take a greater toll on gas-electric hybrid EPA estimates than on traditional gas-powered cars. "In normal use, the margin between truly comparable hybrid and nonhybrid cars could be less than 10 percent," reports thetruthaboutcars.com.

10. False. The main differences are detergent level (generally, the more the better, which keeps your car or truck's fuel/air-intake system clean) and volatility (better brands of gasoline simply are more explosive, producing more energy to drive your car or truck). See lincolnsonline.com/article99.html for a nontechnical discourse on why detergent levels and volatility matter.


source: http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/wdhbus ... 5258.shtml
 

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On item #4, I doubt premium fuel matters much to hybrids. An IMA is probably all the acceleration anyone would need.

Another myth: the slower you go, the better fuel economy. Truth: The lowest speed you can drive in your highest gear without lugging is probably the most economical mode. That would probably be in the 40-50 mph range for most vehicles.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Hi All:

___I bet this guys LMPG is pathetic if he follows his own True’s?

1. 20% > MAX sidewall will make any car sing a different tune in terms of FE? This guy was way off even with MAX sidewall vs. in the door specs?

3. Cracking a single window will have less effect then opening a window which will have less effect then having both windows open which will have a much less effect then losing most of an Insight’s lean burn w/ A/C use.

7. He answered the question right but he doesn’t know how to drive through hilly terrain for maximum FE by the definition. “Drive w/ load” is something he has never done, I am quite sure.

8. He never considered that the tanks are underground and the fuel temps in said tanks probably vary only a slight amount no matter what time of day or night. I would like to see a test run of tank temps over time of day to believe you can truly receive more gas because of a density change due to increased/decreased temps in an underground tank.

9. I wonder what non-hybrid car he has ever driven that has received > 100 mpg – 90 + mile segments over 100 times last year? Better yet, I wonder what his FE has been in whatever he drives by comparison …

___Knucklehead. Isn’t he :D

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:1d59c9q3][email protected][/email:1d59c9q3]
 

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I totally agree about the fuel tanks. I bet if you measure the temperature at the pump it is pretty steady other than maybe seasonally adjusted ground temps.

However, if it is really hot and you fill up a small amount of fuel at a gas station pump that no one has used in a while, then the gas in the piping will be hot.

It is just the opposite of running hot water in your house. The tank will be hot, but the hot water has got to get to the tap through the cold pipes and push out the cold water. Here, the cool underground gas has to get from the tank through the pipes pushing out the warmer gas. If someone just filled up an SUV, they will have a nice fresh supply of cold gas filling the entire pipe system from the tank to the spout.

The true answer is:

If you want to get the most gas for you money, always fill up behind a gas guzzler with a giant empty tank.
 

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SwordStroke said:
4. False. Octane refers only to a fuel's resistance to knock or ping. Only 6 percent of all cars on the road require high-octane gas, while 10 percent of all gas sold is high octane, reports the Federal Trade Commission.
If your car has a knock sensor and if knock is detected on regular grade gas, ignition timing is retarted reducing efficency. The correct answer that higher octane usually does not help.
Some cars do not require high octance, but will run more efficenly on it.
SwordStroke said:
9. True. This is controversial, but several sources note that real-world driving conditions take a greater toll on gas-electric hybrid EPA estimates than on traditional gas-powered cars. "In normal use, the margin between truly comparable hybrid and nonhybrid cars could be less than 10 percent," reports thetruthaboutcars.com.
I guess the real world is stop-n-go traffic with the A/C on high and a heavy right foot. Probably no tune-ups for 60K miles and tape over the check-engine light too.

On the other hand, most automotive engineers would be overjoyed if they found a way to increase engine efficency by mearly 5% (without increaseing emissions or weight) .
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I guess the real world is stop-n-go traffic with the A/C on high and a heavy right foot. Probably no tune-ups for 60K miles and tape over the check-engine light too.
Living in San Diego - I believe every word of this statement. I am surrounded by crazed loons who somehow got their hands on a car.
 

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San Diego driving

Joe, I'm also in San Diego, and it's simply amazing how disrespectful other cars are to my Insight, and I drive it 95% of the time. It's almost as though they're resentful of the fact that I'm getting triple their MPG.

I'm cut off constantly to a dangerous extent on a regular basis on freeways, and I find myself leaving the house programmed to a defensive style of driving in the Insight.

My respite (and revenge) is to juimp into my '99 Corvette for the other 5% of my driving, and I don't take @#$% off anybody....especially SUVs! My defense in the Corvette? A good offense.
 

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Re: San Diego driving

9. True. This is controversial, but several sources note that real-world driving conditions take a greater toll on gas-electric hybrid EPA estimates than on traditional gas-powered cars. "In normal use, the margin between truly comparable hybrid and nonhybrid cars could be less than 10 percent," reports thetruthaboutcars.com.
I bet that margin doubles when comparing a FE conscious ICE driver to a FE conscious hybrid driver. A lot of difference can be made with respect to fuel economy by learning when to kick in the IMA at just the right time, and maximizing regen when braking. I've gained a lot by driving with load, then pushing my throttle right to the threshold for IMA boost to crest the hill, and backing off right after. Also, for long hill climbs, knowing just how much throttle to use so that the battery pack is used up optimally at the top, and charged optimally on the way down makes a big difference, as well. I actually found my way to this insight forum as I was interested in the workings of the MIMA project... I'd love to see something like that come out for the Civic eventually.

I actually think that Honda should have offered several different "modes" for the assist, optimized for different situations (similar to how many automatics offer features like late shifting "sport mode" for improved performance), while an average driver would be blown out of the water by something as complicated as the MIMA, a three-mode switch would be user-friendly and offer a lot of the same benefits.

3. False. Turning off the A/C does increase engine efficiency, but rolling down the windows increases drag, which requires the engine to expend more energy. Here's some advice from an environmental group known as Earth Share of Washington (esw.org): At lower speeds, open the windows or sunroof to stay cool. At higher speeds, use the car's fan instead.
The best way to do AC is to cycle it, run it during braking or downhill coasting, that way it's essentially "free," and actually helps save the brakes to some extent. For a light car like an insight or a civic, an AC compressor requires a fairly large portion of the engine's total power, creating a noticable drag/braking, so the effect of the AC on fuel economy is much steeper compared to a big SUV.

1. False. The maximum pressure rating on your tire's sidewall has nothing to do with fuel economy. It only refers to maximum safe inflation. Consult your owner's manual for proper tire inflation, and adhere to it.
Trick question. More pressure = better for fuel economy, pushing that to or beyond the max sidewall might be incredibly reckless, but it would still be better for fuel economy. As the roads I drive on are all in fairly good condition, I'm comfortable riding my tires pumped up higher than what is recommended in the manual, though still a ways under max sidewall.
 

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mpg

"Guest"?
Whom ever posted this article didn't even have the guts to identify himself. Item should be locked..........Pure hype!
 

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The comment in the quiz about the efficiency of hybrids is contrary to my experience. I have both an Insight and a Prius. Compared with conventional cars I find that both the hybrids achieve FE much closer to their rated FE. In particular, in really tough short trip, heavy, stop-start traffic the difference between either hybrid and conventional cars is especially marked - with the hybrids suffering less severe drops in FE.

I have also read comments that hybrids are not as efficient on the open road as in the city. In my experience this is also untrue for both the Insight and the Prius. Both cars have improved economy on the open road compared with stop-start city traffic. What is true is that the improvement in FE from city to open road is not as marked in a hybrid. But this is not a criticism of the hybrids - it is merely a result of the high level of inefficiency of conventional cars in city traffic.

I have looked at the truthaboutcars website. The writers are very good at mocking people interested in high FE motoring. This is a common reaction by people who have no rational justification for their position. They know as well as we do that the profligate consumption of fossil fuels will be short lived but they do not want to change their ways. Think of them as children and they are much easier to bear. The motor industry will become much more fuel efficient and will one day look back nostalgically at the hyper-miling pioneers. The truthaboutcars writers will be seen as the dinosaurs they have already become.


"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire (possibly)

Ghillie
 
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